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Navajo Code Talkers

Navajo Code Talkers






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Navajo Code Talkers Navajo Code Talkers Presentation Transcript

  • Navajo Code Talkers What did they do for the war effort?
  • Where did the idea of using the Navajo language come from?
    • Philip Johnston
      • Engineer and veteran of WWI
      • Son of a Navajo missionary
      • Knew Navajo customs and language fluently
      • Knew the military was looking for a new communication code to use against the Japanese
      • Successfully presented his idea to the Marine Corps and it begun in the spring of 1942
  • The Navajo Language
    • Spoken only by the Navajos in their reservations in the Southwest
    • At the time was an unwritten language
    • Complex: no alphabet or symbols
    • Tonal: vowels rise and fall when pronounced and change meaning with pitch
    • The language represents the Navajos’ relationship with the world around them
  • The Code
    • Why are secret communications important in a war?
    • Navajos had to learn military terms in English first.
    • Had to create Navajo equivalent for the term. (Many words were not in their language.)
    • For secrecy no written code was allowed in battle - they had to memorize each word.
  • 4 Basic Rules for Memorization
    • The code words had to have some kind of logical connection to the term to which they referred
    • Code words had to be unusually descriptive
    • Code words had to be short
    • They had to avoid words that could be confused with similar words
  • Examples of Military Navajo Words
    • Major General = So-na-kih (Two Stars)
    • Observation Plane = ine-ahs-jah (Owl)
    • Battleship = Lo-tso (Whale)
    • Submarine = Besh-lo (Iron Fish)
  • Alphabet Code
    • Navajo did not have a written language.
    • the Navajo words "wol-la-chee" (ant), "be-la-sana" (apple) and "tse-nill" (axe) all stood for the letter "a.”
    • Why would they use more than one word for the same letter?
    • In order to say "Navy" in Navajo Code they could say, "tsah (needle) wol-la-chee (ant) ah-keh-di- glini (victor) tsah-ah-dzoh (yucca)."
  • Recognition
    • Not recognized until 1969 after the code was declassified in 1968
    • Received bronze medallions
    • 1982: Bruce King, Governor of New Mexico, proclaimed April 10th as the New Mexico Code Talker Day. Later in that same year, President Ronald Reagan made August 14th as National Code Talker Day.
    • 1989: Memorial in Phoenix, Arizona
    • Flute was a Navajo communications tool that signaled the end of confrontation and coming of peace.
  • Congressional Gold and Silver Medals (2001)
    • Sen. Jeff Bingaman - “Honoring the Code Talkers Act”
    • President Bush presented the Navajo Code Talkers with Congressional Medals.